News Blog

Electric Railway Museum open day

Posted by Robert Hampton on 10th October 2017 at 8:26 pm

Many of our readers will be aware of our sister unit, the Wirral Class 503 EMU, part of the SERA fleet, which has been housed at the Electric Railway Museum (formerly Coventry Railway Centre) for many years.

Unfortunately, as we reported back in July, the museum site is to be closed and cleared. The collection will be scattered to various sites across the country.

The final open day at the site was held on 8th October, which was the last opportunity to see the museum’s collection of electric trains in one place. The event was well-attended, with over 1,000 people reportedly attending.

Class 503 driving car 28690


Appeal for tools

Posted by Robert Hampton on 9th September 2017 at 1:51 pm

We have reached the point of needing to acquire some new hand tools and tooling – particularly “Whitworth” spanners and sockets.

Our Unit was designed and built in late 1930s using the established British Workshop equipment, well before the influx of American tooling during Second World War and subsequent movements into Metrication.

Does anyone have (or know of) any old tool boxes and their contents that might include Whitworth open spanners, ring spanners, sockets or socket sets that might be donated to us please?

Everything that holds doors in place, pipework attached to frames, substructure of seat bases etc is Whitworth threaded. We will arrange to collect if that would help.

Please contact our chairman at if you can help. Thanks.

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Save the Class 503

Posted by Robert Hampton on 13th July 2017 at 7:07 pm

We were saddened to hear about the forthcoming closure of the Electric Railway Museum in Coventry. The museum announced in a Facebook post that they will close to the public after their final open day on 8th October.

The museum has a variety of rolling stock, but of most interest to readers of this web site will undoubtedly be the 502’s sister unit, the Wirral Class 503, which operated over the LMS/Mersey Railway electric network (now the Merseyrail Wirral Line) from 1938 until 1985.

The last surviving 3-car set is now part of the collection of the Suburban Electric Railway Association. SERA also owns Liverpool Overhead Railway trailer car, no.7, one of only two LOR vehicles in existence and the only surviving example of a vehicle renovated under the railway’s modernisation scheme.

With the closure of the museum, the future for SERA’s fleet is once again uncertain. SERA is exploring alternative sites, but to meet the costs of moving all their vehicles, they will require funding.

A JustGiving page has been set up at to try to raise £10,000 towards the costs of moving all the vehicles to new homes.

This train survived Hitler's bombs, Beeching's axe, and the destruction of all 42 of its classmates. Will you help save it one more time?

Over the years, SERA and its members have been very supportive of the Friends of the 502 Group. To return the favour, please help them out by donating if you can, and spreading the word on Facebook or Twitter.

Meanwhile, why not take the opportunity to visit the museum in Coventry, while you still can? The museum will hold its open days as planned on 13th August, 8th/9th September and 8th October. For more information see the ERM web site at

More information is also available on the Facebook pages for the Class 503 Unit and the Electric Railway Museum.

MTT Open Day 2017

Posted by Robert Hampton on 22nd June 2017 at 7:29 pm

UPDATED on 7 July with public transport information – see end of post.

MTT Open Day 2017 - Sunday 9th July, 10.30-16.30

It’s almost that time again! On Sunday 9th July 2017 the Merseyside Transport Trust will be throwing open their doors to the public. Come and see us – the event is open from 10:30am to 4.30pm on 9th July, and admission is free.

As always, the 502 will be open for you to inspect the progress we have made over the past year, and members of the Friends of the 502 Group will be on hand to answer all your questions (and accept your donations).

The usual collection of heritage vehicles will be on display, with visiting vehicles from all over the country. There will also be sales stands where you can pick up a bargain.

Bus links will operate from Ormskirk and Burscough Bridge stations to connect with rail services. If coming by car, the MTT is located just off Tollgate Road, Burscough, L40 8TG.

For more info see

UPDATE: Bus times for the free bus link, operated by the Merseyside Transport Trust.

From Ormskirk Bus Station:
1020, 1050, 1120, 1150, 1220, 1250, 1320, 1350, 1420, 1450, 1520, 1550, 1620.

From Burscough Bridge Station (opposite Tesco):
1033, 1133, 1213, 1313, 1413, 1513, 1613.

Please note that due to industrial action on Northern Rail, there will be no trains to Burscough Bridge on Sunday. An alternative, for people travelling from Wigan or Southport directions is Arriva bus service 375 which calls at Ormskirk bus station.

Merseyrail is not affected by strike action on Sunday and trains from Liverpool to Ormskirk will run as normal.

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Forty years of the Merseyrail Underground

Posted by Robert Hampton on 2nd May 2017 at 8:52 pm

On 2nd May 1977 the Merseyrail underground opened to the public. The first departure was the 6.05am service from Liverpool Central to Southport. Passengers, including Ralph Jackson in this photo from the Science and Society Picture Library were presented with a commemorative certificate of their journey.

Merseyrail publicity showing the loop and link lines and the slogan Right to the Heart of the City

On that first day, only the Northern Line to Moorfields and Central was in service. The Wirral loop opened a week later, but initially only served James Street and Central in the city centre, as the Wirral Line platforms at Moorfields and Lime Street were not ready. They opened later in 1977.

Black and White photo of Moorfields railway station with a class 503 unit

Photo by Peter Whatley, licensed under CC BY-SA 2.0 (Original)

The following years saw the network extended, starting with the reopening of the former CLC route to Garston and Hunts Cross. Then electrification was extended on the Wirral side, first to Hooton, then onwards to Chester and Ellesmere Port.

Sadly, some of the proposed schemes (such as the Gateacre line, the Wapping Tunnel and the Outer Loop) never came to fruition, but Merseyrail can nevertheless be considered a success story of which the city region can be proud.


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502 Trails Tour update

Posted by Robert Hampton on 30th March 2017 at 8:25 pm

502 Trails Tour image showing various shots of the 502

There is still space available on the 502 Trails bus tour this Sunday, 2nd April. If you want to join us, please feel free to turn up on the day and pay your £10. We depart at 10am from London Street, near the side entrance of Southport railway station.

The 502 trail tour will take in various sites of railway interest in and around Merseyside, including a visit to the 502 base at Burscough. Further details are available on our original blog post.

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The 502 Trails History Tour

Posted by Robert Hampton on 21st February 2017 at 5:38 pm

This year marks the 40th anniversary of the closure of Liverpool Exchange and the opening of the Merseyrail Loop and Link underground lines. To commemorate this event we will be running a special bus tour on Sunday 2nd April.

502 Trails Tour image showing various shots of the 502

We will depart at 10am from London Street, Southport (near the side entrance of the railway station), and follow the routes towards Liverpool that the 502 units used, with diversions and pauses at other interesting historic infrastructure. We pause at Liverpool Exchange for a walk around the old station area, then continue to the Museum of Liverpool at Mann Island for a lunch break and a look at the restored Liverpool Overhead Railway coach.

On our return journey to Southport we will follow part of the Liverpool Overhead Railway route into Bootle, then follow the North Mersey route to Aintree. Finally, we will head off via Maghull and Ormskirk to our base at Burscough, where the preserved 502 will be open to inspect the latest work.

The fare payable on the day is £10. Please contact our treasurer, Tony Kuivala, to book your place. Email

Happy New Year!

Posted by Robert Hampton on 1st January 2017 at 1:45 pm

Happy new year to all our friends and supporters.

2017 is a big year for us as it marks the 40th anniversary of the closure of Exchange station and the opening of the Merseyrail underground. We will be holding various events to mark this milestone throughout the year, and more details will be available soon.

In the meantime, we’d like to make you aware of an interesting event taking place in Liverpool on 16th January. John Ryan, a key member of the team who built the Merseyrail Loop and Link, will be speaking to the Tramway and Light Railway society and showing some unique pictures of the construction.

The event takes place at Greenbank Sports Academy at 7.30pm on 16th January, and admission is just £2. More details on the UK Model Shop website.

Map titled 'looking to the future with Merseyrail' showing new Loop and Link lines

(Scan from the collection of Luke O’Rourke)

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Seasons Greetings

Posted by Robert Hampton on 24th December 2016 at 2:18 pm

To all our members, supporters and followers, a very Merry Christmas!

Photo of Class 502 in the snow

Photo credit: the late Bernard Dixon.

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Work starts on the 502 cab

Posted by Robert Hampton on 17th August 2016 at 9:36 pm

Regular readers will know that the driving cabs of both 502 vehicles have been particularly badly affected by corrosion, and an almost total rebuild is needed. The good news is that we have reached the stage where work can begin.

A couple of pictures from the weekend can be seen below (click on them to enlarge). Many thanks to Steve Dawson who has given us the benefit of his welding skills.

A full exterior rebuild of the cab front may follow, however we need to obtain the steelwork and carry out preparatory work. Donations, however small, would be greatly appreciated.

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